Vilnius, July 13, 2022
Appeals from thousands of Lithuanian Orthodox clergy and faithful were recently delivered to President Gitanas Nausėda, calling on the state to stop interfering in Church matters.
The Lithuanian Church has had to defrock a handful of clerics for continued schismatic activity. While the Moscow Patriarchate is recognized as having canonical jurisdiction in Lithuania, the given clerics have been working to bring the Patriarchate of Constantinople into the country.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė told Patriarch Bartholomew in May that the government is ready to help in this endeavor. His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius then wrote a public letter to the official, asking why the fate of the Church is being discussed without its knowledge.
The appeals were delivered by the vicar of the Vilnius Diocese, His Grace Bishop Ambrose of Trakai, who recently met with two presidential advisors, acquainting them with the diocese’s strong and unwavering condemnation of the war in Ukraine, reports the Lithuanian Church.
Both sides also exchanged views on the situation created by the group of defrocked clerics who are trying to establish a parallel jurisdiction in Lithuania, and the parties agreed that state interference in religious affairs is unacceptable.
Bp. Ambrose also spoke about the Lithuanian Church’s appeal for greater independence within the Moscow Patriarchate, and about his readiness to personally participate in the work of the Synodal Commission that has begun examining that possibility.
At the beginning of the meeting, Bp. Ambrose and the delegation with him handed over the appeals, with the signatures of 7,317 laymen and 61 clerics.
In their appeal, the laity express deep concern over the unjustified attacks on the Church in Lithuania as well as their full support for the position of His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius against the war in Ukraine.
They also condemn the schism and confirm their allegiance to the Church in Lithuania within the Moscow Patriarchate, and appeal to the authorities and public to prevent the escalation of religious and ethnic hatred.
Several churches throughout the country have been vandalized lately.
The clergy appeal also condemns the schismatic actions of the former clerics and expresses hope that the authorities will conduct a dialogue not with the schismatics, but with the actual Church. They also confirm their full obedience to the hierarchy, and their agreement with the position of Met. Innokenty on the war.